74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc. Organically grown fruit. December brought intense rains, but they ended in January. Drenching spring storms saved the growing season. Though summer was foggy and cold, the vines received abundant sunshine and warmth that ripened the grapes by early October.
Harvest 28 September to 18 October. Grapes destemmed, 100% whole-berry fermentation. 15% automated berry sorting. Fermented on the indigenous yeasts. Pressed at eight days. Natural malolactic. Reduced pumpovers during fermentation helped moderate tannin extraction. Seventeen months in barrel (93% air-dried American oak, 7% air-dried French oak). TA 7.43 g/l, pH 3.39.
Very dark crimson. The ripeness level is quite a shock immediately after the 1977! Floral cassis in abundance but nothing heavy. It’s supported on an air mattress of acidity and gives huge pleasure. I wouldn’t choose to drink the 2019 now, but I could drink this! Great lift and freshness, as well as all that ripe fruit. SO neat!
Drink 2023 - 2045
Jancis Robinson MW, JancisRobinson.com (November 2022)
The nose is simply gorgeous, very ripe and seductive, and displays great charm and finesse and aromas of pure black fruits. Although rich and tannic, the wine is not too extracted and has ample acidity, which brings some severity which is welcome at this stage. Balanced and discreet, this is less flamboyant than the nose, and clearly needs time to express its full potential. Very long.
Drink 2023 - 2045
Stephen Brook, Decanter.com (October 2022)
The 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Monte Bello comes from a cooler, even drought year and is based on 74% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot, and 2% Cabernet Franc. I believe it was aged all in American oak, as always (I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a French barrel in there) and hit 13.7% natural alcohol.
Beautiful, and classic Monte Bello, notes of plums, cassis, and blueberries all give way to more vanilla oak, tobacco, cedar pencil, and violet aromas and flavours. A more elegant, streamlined, medium to full-bodied Monte Bello, it has beautiful tannins, perfect ripeness (not overripe nor underripe), flawless balance, and a great finish.
It doesn’t have the sheer grandeur or dimension of the 2017, but it’s a seamless, incredibly elegant, compelling Monte Bello that will benefit from 4-6 years (it’s stunning today with a healthy decant) and will certainly have 30 years of prime drinking.
Drink 2025 - 2057
Jeb Dunnuck, JebDunnuck.com (May 2023)
About this WINE
Ridge Vineyards makes wines that compete in terms of quality and desirability with Bordeaux First Growths and Grand Cru White Burgundies. Winemaker Paul Draper has crafted 43 vintages at Ridge and his practical, hands-off approach to winemaking has resulted in an exceptional and highly sought-after range of wines.
Although a vineyard was first planted near the top of Monte Bello Ridge in the Santa Cruz Mountains in 1885, it lay abandoned until four Stanford Research Institute engineers bought it in 1959. Ridge Vineyards was formed in 1962 and Paul Draper was appointed as winemaker in 1969. After stunning the world by their triumph in the 1976 Judgement of Paris tasting, Ridge Vineyards shot to fame and gained cult status almost overnight.
Since then, Ridge has concentrated on producing fine Bordeaux blends and Chardonnays from Monte Bello's exalted terroir as well as renowned Zinfandels from the Lytton Springs and Geyserville vineyards in Sonoma County.
Ridge's ethos is simple: 100% dedication in the vineyards to grow the most concentrated and flavoursome grapes followed by 100% dedication in the winery with minimum intervention to draw all the fruit's natural richness into the wine.
Paul Draper has studiously dedicated himself to employing traditional Old World methods in the creation of his wines, resulting in silky smooth reds with fine tannins and glorious fruit. The wines are racked and fined but remain unfiltered so as not to lose any character before being matured in new American oak barrels.
Ridge Monte Bello, once pure Cabernet, has been a Cabernet-dominated blend since 1975 with varying quantities, depending on the vintage, of Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc to add complexity to the final wine. The Monte Bello Chardonnay, arguably California's most respected white wine, is elegantly structured and rivals the finest White Burgundy Grand Crus.
Since 1972 Ridge has also specialised in top-quality Zinfandel blends from the Lytton Springs and Geyserville vineyards in Sonoma County and in 1979 the Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet blend joined the range to offer a softer, earlier drinking companion to the famed Monte Bello.
Discover the story behind our Own Selection Zinfandel, made for us by Ridge. Read more
Dry Creek Valley
Dry Creek Valley, approximately 16 miles long and 2 miles wide, is based around the Dry Creek river in Sonoma County, a tributary of the Russian River. The AVA has earned a reputation for its Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel. The valley remains a rural setting for small family wineries, yet at the same time it is home to the Sonoma wing of the industry giant, Gallo Wineries .
Zinfandel has long established its position as the valley's top red grape, and its second revival since the late 1990s' brought Dry Creek Valley back in the limelight. Dry Creek Valley has actually succeeded in rivaling Amador County in the Sierra Foothills as a stronghold of Zinfandel. Sauvignon Blanc is the valley's signature white grape.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah have also made successful inroads in Dry Creek Valley. Both are growing in acreage as Zinfandel has reached a peak.
The most famous red wine grape in the world and one of the most widely planted.
It is adaptable to a wide range of soils, although it performs particularly well on well-drained, low-fertile soils. It has small, dusty, black-blue berries with thick skins that produce deeply coloured, full-bodied wines with notable tannins. Its spiritual home is the Médoc and Graves regions of Bordeaux where it thrives on the well-drained gravel-rich soils producing tannic wines with piercing blackcurrant fruits that develop complex cedarwood and cigar box nuances when fully mature.
The grape is widely planted in California where Cabernet Sauvignon based wines are distinguished by their rich mixture of cassis, mint, eucalyptus and vanilla oak. It is planted across Australia and with particular success in Coonawarra where it is suited to the famed Terra Rossa soil. In Italy barrique aged Cabernet Sauvignon is a key component in Super Tuscans such as Tignanello and Sassicaia, either on its own or as part of a blend with Sangiovese.